Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th January 2023.
I welcome the First Minister’s announcement. However, it has come 18 months later than was originally intended.
The World Health Organization’s target for fully vaccinating girls against HPV is 90 per cent, but the latest figures for Scotland, which are for last year, show that only 77 per cent of girls in the most deprived areas were fully vaccinated. The WHO also recommends that 70 per cent of women be screened, but women from the most deprived areas are less likely to take part in screening programmes, with uptake there reaching only 63 per cent.
We have the tools to end cervical cancer in Scotland, but the Scottish Government is not using them. Vaccination rates are too low and the roll-out of self-sampling is too slow. Women with abnormal smear tests face waits of a year for colposcopy appointments, and there continue to be inequalities for women in the poorest communities. Will the First Minister commit to addressing those issues as a matter of urgency? Will she set out a clear plan in the next month so that cervical cancer can be eliminated in Scotland?